Stanford University

This week researchers at the University of Minnesota published a paper showing that stem cells from the bone marrow can help kids with a blistering skin condition called epidermolysis bullosa. The disease is horrible. Lacking a protein to anchor skin in place, the children's blister at the slightest touch -- on their skin, in their throat, inside their eyelids, and anywhere else skin forms.

A disclaimer: this work was not funded by CIRM, nor does it directly have to do with stem cell research. It is, however, extremely cool, and strikes close to home. I spent hours as an undergrad slicing off the limbs of newts and marveling as the tiny fingers and toes re-emerged on newly formed limbs. Now Helen Blau at Stanford University has for the first time replicated that magic in mammals.

Stanford scientists have overcome one significant hurdle in developing a therapy for muscle-wasting diseases like muscular dystrophy. Until now, the muscle stem cells that stand at the ready to repair muscle damage couldn't be grown outside the safe confines of a muscle. Once uprooted from their home and transferred to a laboratory dish, they matured into less useful progenitor cells. That's a problem because once mature the cells no longer have the potential to be transplanted to repair muscle damaged by injury or disease.